WASHINGTON – At the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, a series of late-breaking sessions will delve into the newest research on the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights of these sessions include a talk that will provide expert insight into the many coronavirus vaccines currently in development, as well as an expert presentation on coronavirus immunity and antibody testing.

Allaying the Public’s Fears About the Coronavirus Vaccine

It’s looking more and more likely that a coronavirus vaccine will be available soon, which could finally enable life to return to normal. However, a whopping 40% of Americans currently either don’t want or are uncertain about whether they’ll get the vaccine. One of the reasons for this is that people aren’t sure if the various coronavirus vaccines will be safe, especially since they’re being developed so fast.

In the session “SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Basics – Current State of Affairs,” Sharon Frey, MD, of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, will tackle this concern head on. Dr. Frey is the clinical director of the university’s Center for Vaccine Development, which is one of the myriad study sites across the U.S. participating in the ongoing coronavirus vaccine clinical trials. Drawing on her firsthand experience with these trials, Dr. Frey will explain what happens at every stage of coronavirus vaccine testing, how safety is evaluated through multiple oversight mechanisms, and how scientists and regulators are ensuring that no corners get cut with regards to safety even as vaccine development races forward.

“We are moving these processes along as quickly as possible, but not at the expense of safety,” said Dr. Frey. “For example, in the past, if we sent something to FDA, they might have had 30 days to look at it. Now if we send something to FDA we say, you get a week. Look at this, study it, all hands on deck. So that instead of spending five years doing this, we’re doing it in two.”

Dr. Frey’s session will also cover all the other latest information on coronavirus vaccine development that the public needs to know, including what the different types of coronavirus vaccines are and why we will ultimately need, not just one, but several effective vaccines in circulation.

Everything We Know About Immunity So Far

Another crucial piece of the coronavirus puzzle is whether or not people who’ve had COVID-19 are protected from reinfection. Thousands of studies related to this subject have been published this year, and in the session “Antibody and Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2: Where Are We Now?” Patricia Slev, PhD, of ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City and Elitza Theel, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota will give an expert overview of these studies’ most salient findings.

“Since the pandemic started, we’ve learned a lot about the immune response to the virus—antibody kinetics, persistence, longevity,” said Dr. Theel. “But what we know is constantly evolving and it sometimes seems contradictory at first glance. For instance, some studies show antibody levels dropping dramatically by two to three months post symptom onset, whereas others suggest a longer duration.”

“One of our goals is to synthesize and summarize this massive amount of information, because not all healthcare professionals and scientists have time to look into every aspect of this subject,” said Dr. Slev.

Drs. Slev and Theel will also discuss the many different tests for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and for SARS-CoV-2 proteins known as antigens, and what these tests’ current and potential future uses are.

Full List of COVID-19 Sessions at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting

AACC Annual Scientific Meeting registration is free for members of the media. Reporters can register online here: https://www.xpressreg.net/register/aacc0720/media/landing.asp

Special Presentation From Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD

Session 32113: Pandemic Preparedness: The Role of Clinical Laboratories and Public Health in Controlling Outbreaks Representing a Global Health Threat

Session 32115: SARS-CoV-2: Virology, Kinetics, Diagnostics, and Containment

Session 33114: SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Basics – Current State of Affairs

Session 34234: Therapeutic Strategies for COVID-19

Session 35113: Clinical Laboratory Direction in the Apocalypse: Responding to the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic in the First Hotspot in the U.S.

Session 32454: Antibody and Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2: Where Are We Now?

About the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo

The AACC Annual Scientific Meeting offers 5 days packed with opportunities to learn about exciting science from December 13-17, all available on an online platform. This year, there is a concerted focus on the latest updates on testing for COVID-19, including a talk with current White House Coronavirus Task Force testing czar, Admiral Brett Giroir. Plenary sessions include discussions on using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve patient outcomes, new therapies for cancer, creating cross-functional diagnostic management teams, and accelerating health research and medical breakthroughs through the use of precision medicine.

At the virtual AACC Clinical Lab Expo, more than 170 exhibitors will fill the digital floor with displays and vital information about the latest diagnostic technology, including but not limited to SARS-CoV-2 testing, mobile health, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, point-of-care, and automation.

About AACC

Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.myadlm.org.